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4 running backs to fade in 2020 fantasy football

Fantasy football is back for 2020! We take a look at five running backs who you can fade in your fantasy drafts.

A detailed view of the hairstyle of Derrick Henry #22 of the Tennessee Titans during the 2020 NFL Pro Bowl at Camping World Stadium on January 26, 2020 in Orlando, Florida. Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

I label my players to fade as “fades” versus “busts,” because a bust connotes an awful season on the field, whereas. If a player is healthy and has some chance to see meaningful playing time, he has fantasy value. Does that mean I’ll draft that player? It all depends on where they go in the draft I am in at that moment. Average draft position is our best tool for predicting where a player will be drafted. When selecting sleepers and busts and breakouts and the like, we must do it within the ADP landscape.

Running back fades are going to be more about projected workload more than about ability. A good back can be more efficient on fewer touches, but for the most part, running backs who get touches will turn those into fantasy points.

Derrick Henry, Titans

Update August 27: Henry is looking to add a wrinkle to his game, and Ryan Tannehill says he’s catching the ball with more confidence. Henry could be more appealing if he’s no longer a one-dimensional back, but he’ll need to get a reasonable number of targets.

Henry is currently going off the board as the No. 6 running back, which is paying up for his 2019 results. He is a great running back without a doubt, but without many receptions. I can’t draft him at the top of his possible results. In standard leagues, it makes more sense, but even there, the chance of him losing snaps in the fourth quarter due to his poor receiving, hurts his upside in PPR as well.

Todd Gurley, Falcons

Update August 27: Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter expects Gurley to get 15-25 touches per game in 2020. He averaged a career-low 17 touches per game in his final year with the Rams. Don’t expect him to bounce back if he’s closer to the floor Koetter set.

Update Aug 18: ESPN’s Vaughn McClure noted that Gurley walked with a noticeable limp during the acclimation period. His workload will be limited in camp, and he’s said that he’s open to opting out for the season if the league doesn’t find a safe way to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. Drafting Gurley will come with plenty of risk.

Gurley ended up getting some touchdown luck last season, as he had 14 total TDs despite a down season due to his knee problems. He’s now had back-to-back seasons where he’s been limited due to his knee and last season he averaged a poor 3.8 yards per carry and 6.7 yards per reception. He’s damaged and there’s no reason to invest in a running back with chronic knee trouble.

David Johnson, Texans

Update August 27: Houston has discussed playing David Johnson and Duke Johnson at the same time to confuse defenses. This could lower David’s ceiling but raise Duke’s floor, depending on the frequency.

Update Aug 18: Bill O’Brien views Johnson as a three-down back. That bodes well for a player with his versatility, but we’ll have to see if Johnson really gets the bulk of the snaps.

Sometimes when a player shows us he is done, we should take notice. Johnson was a beast his sophomore season, but also had 293 carries and 80 receptions and a hard to repeat 20 touchdowns. Even in that huge season, he averaged an average 4.2 yards per carry. Then it was downhill from there due to injuries. In his next three seasons, he rushed 363 times for 1,308 yards for a 3.6 yards per carry average. He still put up good efficiency numbers as a receiver, but Bill O’Brien hasn’t thrown the ball to his backs much despite having a strong receiver in Duke Johnson. I’ll take a flier on Duke instead.

J.K. Dobbins, Ravens

Update September 4: Dobbins is gaining traction, and John Harbaugh has sad the rookie running back should have a “significant” role in Baltimore’s offense. Whether he’ll be more of a one-two punch combination than a backup remains to be seen, but his ceiling should be higher than most second options.

Update August 27: Dobbins has secured a role for himself in Week 1. He’s still behind Ingram on the depth chart and will forfeit some touches to Edwards. He should get a chance to earn a more prominent role moving forward.

Update Aug 18: Dobbins has come forward to say he plans on competing for a starting job. While he might not get there in Week 1 with Ingram in front of him, his skill set could make him electric should the RB1 go down with an injury.

Dobbins is one of my favorite dynasty players, but the Ravens are going to be a tough backfield to navigate this season. Mark Ingram will start the season as the lead back, Justice Hill should see more work in passing downs and Gus Edwards in there to mix in between the tackles. Add in Lamar Jackson as a rusher who will take away carries and goal line looks, and there isn’t much room for Dobbins to live up to his Top 100 ADP.